Sometime you just have to take care of business. That is exactly what the Sacramento Kings did Wednesday night when they walked into the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas and handed the Mavericks a 120-89 smackdown.
For one of the few times in recent memory, the Kings got off to a quick start. Sacramento took a 26-23 lead into the second quarter. They pushed their advantage to as many as 13 before the break, before settling for a 56-52 lead heading into halftime.
And then the Kings dropped the hammer.
Dallas was on the ropes from the start of the third. The Kings opened the second half with an 11-0 run to get separation and then kept pounding away on the Mavericks to take a 85-64 lead into the fourth where the Mavs waived the white flag early.
“I felt like we were good on both ends,” Omri Casspi told reporters following the game. “We were covering for one another on the defensive end and we were sharing the ball on offense and when we play like this, we’re tough to beat, not just in Dallas, but on any given night.”
The Kings held the Mavs to 41 percent shooting for the game, but in the second half, Dallas hit just 13-of-37 from the field (35.1 percent) and they turned the ball over 10 times.
Sacramento took advantage of the Mavericks miscues, scoring 34 points off of 23 total turnovers for the home team. They ran at every opportunity, outscoring Dallas 33-13 on fastbreak points on their way to the 31-point victory.
“I think we did a good job of playing together, good team defense, good ball movement, everybody got involved, so it was a good team effort all around,” DeMarcus Cousins told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen following the game.
Cousins got it going early, drawing fouls on the injury depleted frontline of the Mavericks. With starting center Andrew Bogut unavailable, Dallas had no choice but to send multiple bodies at Cousins and the big man made them pay.
With all of the attention focused his way, Cousins’ teammates cut to the hoop or found open spots on the perimeter leading to a team-high seven assists for the All-Star center. But he wasn’t the only one sharing the ball.
Six Kings players finished the night with three or more assists as Sacramento totalled 28 dimes in the drubbing. Not only did the Kings move the ball, but they hit their shots as well, finishing the night at 56 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from long range.
Cousins dropped in a team-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Rudy Gay and Darren Collison each finished the night with 19 and Garrett Temple went a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc on his way to 17 points off the bench.
The win snapped Sacramento’s three game losing streak and helped them finish the five-game trip at 2-3. While the Mavericks are a last place team missing plenty of rotational players, there are no easy games for the Kings, who are still in search of an identity on the court.
“Honestly, we’re just focused on playing the best basketball as a team,” Cousins said. “We’ve got our own problems on, we can’t really be focused on the next team, we’ve got to focus on ourselves right now.”
The team flew home following the game, landing in Sacramento overnight. They face the New York Knicks on Friday night at Golden 1 Center before heading back out on the road Saturday to face the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Ben McLemore sighting
It has been an up and down season for plenty of the Kings players as new head coach Dave Joerger searches for the right combination of players. Coming into Wednesday’s game against the Mavericks, fourth-year guard Ben McLemore had been buried on the bench, receiving three straight DNP-CDs and five in Sacramento’s first 20 games.
In an attempt to mix things up, Joerger turned to the 23-year-old guard to start the game, leaving veteran Arron Afflalo out of the rotation for the first time this season.
“It’s just an opportunity, I think he’s been waiting patiently, he’s worked his tail off, he’s kept his confidence,” Joerger said of McLemore. “He’s a pretty good athlete. He deserved this opportunity.”
McLemore struggled to find his rhythm, but still managed to score nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes of action. The high-flying shooting guard is averaging career-lows across the board, posting just 6.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game this season, but it appears he’s going to get another shot to figure things out on the court.
“Let’s take a look at him with this group for a little bit,” Joerger said of McLemore following the game.